What’s a liberal to do? 

Until last weekend, I was inclined to dismiss liberals' call to vote next year for a Green Party candidate or even a Republican as a protest vote of U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln's wishy-washy moderation.

Beginning with water-carrying for billionaires, credit card companies and corporate farm subsidies and ending with her opposition to universal health care, Lincoln's record doesn't offer much to moderate Democrats, never mind liberals. But,  she is a Democrat. She caucuses with the party and elects a leader from that number. She might — might — show backbone on an important Obama judicial appointment some day.

It is hard for me to imagine that a Republican would be preferable, certainly not one of the assembly line-produced reactionaries who have formed a tittering queue worthy of a Miley Cyrus concert to oppose Lincoln. Politics aside,  I've also always thought Lincoln was a fundamentally decent person.

But word has began circulating among human rights activists that Lincoln opposes the employment non-discrimination act. It would bar employment discrimination against homosexual and transgender people at businesses with more than 15 employees. It has  growing support in Congress. Even Lincoln patron Wal-Mart has a policy against employment discrimination on account of sexual orientation. Obama has said he'll sign the legislation, unlike President Bush, who threatened a veto. It's written to exempt religious organizations and it also wouldn't overturn policy on gays in the military.

A spokesman contends it's unfair to characterize Lincoln as opposed to the legislation (or, presumably, to say she supports it). The senator will, the spokesman said, consider its impact on Arkansas before making a decision at the proper time. “As a woman who is breaking barriers in the U.S. Senate, she understands the principles of equality and opportunity in the workplace,” Lincoln's spokesman said. Understanding the principles and fighting for them are, of course, two different things.

A failure to endorse this legislation, which is supported by a congressional majority, is disappointing, if not wholly surprising. But it's an affront to human dignity when compounded by Lincoln's use of a cliche that comes straight from the Falwell playbook.

Lincoln commented gratuitously in a canned noncommital response to letters asking her support for the legislation, “Equal rights should not become special rights.”

“Special rights.” In the politically twisted world that crafted this catch phrase — same shop, probably, that brought us “death panels” and “death tax” — equal treatment under the law is a special right when it applies to queers. It is simple: Those who invoke “special rights” as criticism of the legislation support  discrimination against homosexuals. They want to protect those who underpay, punish, harass and fire people simply because they are gay.  What God teaches this perversion of the Golden Rule?

Many candidates, including the president, have found electoral success among middle class swing voters, people less concerned about social issues and race than peace, the economy and health care. But you'd think the only people voting in Blanche Lincoln's Arkansas were Fox News fanatics. You'd think she knows these lost causes are among the solid plurality who've told pollsters they'll vote for any of several unknown Republicans over Lincln in 2010.

Lincoln demeans herself by pandering to such voters. She might even do her cause harm. If she disgusts 3 or 4 percent of voters enough to go Green in protest,  she might lose a close election. More Lincoln talk of “special rights” and I'll be among those saying it wouldn't be much of a loss.

(At deadline, the senator's office said her canned letter would remove the phrase “due to the confusion it has caused.”)  



From the ArkTimes store

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Pay attention

    • I have attended community meetings about the recent spike in violence in LR, and police…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Adawson's comments attribute the plight of black people in the United States to the War…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • Heather Wilson, blacks have NOT been prevented from pursuing the skilled trades as a result…

    • on July 22, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation